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MARCH 4, 10:30P Jersey Boys conductor Keith Thompson hosts this monthly musical showcase that features original music from some of Las...
MARCH 4, 1P Back by popular demand, Fletcher will perform an intimate concert that includes a mix of standard classical guitar pieces, new...
MARCH 2-4, 7:30P Take a journey through 5,000 years of Chinese culture via the universal languages of music and dance. $54-$204. Reynolds Hall...
Cubs fans (and others): Escape to spring training!
by Sarah Vernetti | posted March 3, 2015
For families batty over baseball, following the Cubs to Mesa, Arizona can make for a sporting road trip
Major League Baseball is coming to Las Vegas — for a weekend, at least. In mid-March, the Chicago Cubs will make their annual trek to Las Vegas, where they will play two games at Cashman Field. However, one weekend of baseball might not be enough for dedicated fans. After all, this could be an exciting year for the Cubs, a team that hasn’t won the World Series since 1908. During the off-season, the Cubs have welcomed new manager Joe Maddon and signed coveted pitcher Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million contract. Add to the mix an impressive crop of young talent, and the Cubs’ 2015 season could turn out to be a historic one.
If one weekend of baseball in Las Vegas isn’t enough to satisfy your craving for summer sports, never fear. A getaway to Mesa, Arizona provides fans with a fun, budget-friendly way to see a little more Cubs action during spring training from March 3 to April 1.
This will be the Cubs’ second year at their new Cactus League home, Cubs Park (2330 Rio Salado Pkwy., 480-668-0500, cactusleague.com). Designed to resemble iconic Wrigley Field in Chicago, the ballpark has brick walls adorned with colorful Cubs murals and a large replica of Wrigley Field’s famous red sign. Vendors sell classic baseball treats such as pretzels, hot dogs and beer, and the mood in the stadium is distinctly Midwestern despite its desert surroundings.
On game day, be sure to arrive at the ballpark early. Next to the stadium, you’ll find practice fields where you can take a seat on the bleachers and watch the players warm up. Or grab your glove and head out to the grassy area beyond the fence where you can try to catch a few of the plentiful home-run balls that will be delivered during batting practice. (Just be sure to keep your eyes up!) If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might even be able to snag an autograph or snap a photo with your favorite Cubs players as they walk to and from the practice field.
After the game, visit nearby Riverview Park (2100 W. Rio Salado Pkwy., mesaaz.gov). Located just up the road from Cubs Park, this is a great place for the kids to burn off some energy. The playground features futuristic-looking climbing structures, including a 50-foot tall climbing tower. Visitors will also find a splash pad, fishing pond, walking trails and shaded picnic areas. Riverview Park is open from sunrise to 10 p.m. daily.
Spend your evening in downtown Tempe, which has a distinct college-town vibe thanks to the proximity of Arizona State University. Enjoy dinner and explore the extensive beer menu at Blasted Barley Beer Company (404 S. Mill Ave., 480-967-5887, blastedbarley.com) or opt for the more family-friendly Gordon Biersch (420 S. Mill Ave., 480-736-0033, gordonbiersch.com). End your evening with ice cream at Sparky’s (510 S. Mill Ave., 480-921-6228, sparkyscreamery.com), a local favorite.
Before returning to Las Vegas, spend the last day of your getaway exploring other parts of the Phoenix metro area. Architecture aficionados will want to take a guided tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Taliesin West (12621 N. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., 480-627-5340, franklloydwright.org). Tour tickets should be purchased online in advance, since space is limited.
For families, McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park (7301 E. Indian Bend Rd., 480-312-2312, therailroadpark.com) in Scottsdale is an affordable option. Throw on your conductor’s cap, buy some tickets and hop aboard the kiddie train or the carousel. Other unique family-friendly attractions include the Musical Instrument Museum (4725 E. Mayo Blvd., 480-478-6000, mim.org) and the firefighter-themed Hall of Flame Museum (6101 E. Van Buren St., 602-275-3473, hallofflame.org).
Travel time to Mesa: By US-93: 4 hours, 45 minutes; nonstop flight from McCarran: 1 hour
Spring Training: March 3-April 1
Big League Weekend in Las Vegas: March 13-14, Cubs vs. Oakland A’s at Cashman Field
Table for two: Moko Asian Bistro
by Scott Dickensheets | posted March 2, 2015
Kimchi fried rice
When it comes to writing about food, I’m perhaps best described as a taco-belletrist — fast, cheap and okay with grease, benefitting from low expectations of fulfillment. You need someone to rhapsodize about a McRib or a pizza, a burrito or a burger, I’ll nom the hell out of that. But when it comes to more complex food, I could use an assist. So, to help me properly express my enjoyment of Moko, a small Asian-tapas joint that’s strip-malled into near obscurity at Charleston and Torrey Pines, I enlisted a convenient foodie: my co-worker Brent Holmes, a voluble artist and an eater of wide range, variety and experimental gusto. I figured he could hip me to aspects of these dishes that my vocabulary of casual McRib exhortation couldn’t convey. Desert Companion staff writer Heidi Kyser came along, too, probably hoping for a food fight.
I chomped down a bowl of kimchi fried rice; Heidi had some vegetarian dish. Brent ordered the special, donburi, which a later Google search will describe as a “Japanese comfort food.”
Scott: So, what’s in that?
Brent: Chicken. Carmelized onion. Rice. Fish. Egg. It’s like a crazy everything party of sheer existential joy. You should try it.
I could swear he said “fish egg.”
Scott: I think I’m going to dig into this kimchi fried rice. (It’s a bowl of fried rice tinctured orange with spices, shot through with kimchi, onion, carrot, bacon and more; you can have it topped with an egg, which I suggest.)
Brent: And there’s fish cake, which is like the hot dog of the Far East, know what I mean?
Scott: “Fish cake” doesn’t sound like something you’d want to eat.
Brent: Oh, fish cake is the best, man.
Maybe it’s the concept that troubles me …
Scott: Couldn’t they have called it something else? What is fish cake — fish compressed into a cake?
Never mind, don’t answer that, Brent. Heidi mentions that her dish contains tofu. I must’ve made a face.
Brent (sighing gently): When you go to places like this, you can’t think of tofu as this sad vegetarian imitation of meat …
Scott: I don’t. I think of it as a byproduct of the plastics industry.
Brent: No, it’s not! I urge you to try it. You’re going to be pleasantly surprised. If you change your perception of it from, “This is me not getting chicken or steak …”
Well, it’s exactly me not getting chicken or steak. But Heidi seems to like it, judging from the satisfied murmur she’s making. And the kimchi rice?
Scott: It’s spicy, but just below the ceiling of being too spicy. My tongue’s got a nice burn, but it’s pleasant. There will be a little rim of perspiration across my forehead when I’m done. This is right at the top of my range.
Brent (gesturing to his donburi): You should try this.
Scott: Okay. But no fish cake. One thing at a time.
Brent: All right, but you’re missing out.
Chewing sounds ensue.
Scott: Yeah, it is pretty good.
Extravagantly cost-effective, too.
Scott: This kimchi rice cost seven bucks. I can’t think of seven bucks I spent better than this in the last week.
Brent: It’s a full meal. I think this is gonna be eight bucks, it’s a special.
Well below the market price of a crazy everything party of sheer existential joy, I’m guessing.
Brent: But I’ve got whole mushrooms, I’ve got rice, I’ve got half a chicken breast, I’ve got an egg …
As we wind down, can we get all food-conceptual up in here?
Brent: The egg adds this expansive protein palette, while still allowing the chicken to take hold. And the texture of the egg is really nice up against the bounciness of the chicken. That’s what it does for me. Really, an egg is just a chicken in proto form.
Mmm, proto chicken ...
Scott: This was a decent amount of rice, but I think the spiciness makes it more filling.
Brent: They say to add something spicy to the end of the end of the meal because it makes your stomach clench.
Scott: Lots of things make my stomach clench.
The words “fish” and “cake,” for instance. But that’s just me.
Bottom line: “Try the damn fish cake!” Brent says.
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